Woman fined $7,200 over tenancy law breaches (Bozena Sakowski)

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TenantLandlord / lessorProperty industry

A woman who repeatedly broke WA tenancy laws when renting out a Bentley property has been fined $7,200 and ordered to pay court costs of $396.

56-year-old Bozena Sakowski pleaded guilty to 24 contraventions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 during a hearing at the Perth Magistrates Court on 15 March 2016.

Eight convictions, with fines of $500 per charge, related to failure to lodge a security bond with the Bond Administrator and failure to provide a receipt for the bond. 16 convictions, with fines of $200 per charge related to failure to use the correct form and information when entering into a written tenancy agreement and failure to provide a property condition report at the start and end of a tenancy.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard welcomed the penalty handed down and hopes it acts a deterrent.

“Under the Residential Tenancies Act all security bonds on rental properties must be lodged with the bond administrator at the Department of Commerce but Mrs Sakowski took bond money in cash and kept it in her safe or had it deposited directly into her bank account,” he said.

“She admitted that she intended to use the bond money for damage to the rental property and unpaid rent as and when various tenants left and this was a misuse of funds that belonged to tenants.

“With any new tenancy, landlords should lodge the bond with the Bond Administrator within 14 days and within a month tenants should receive a confirmation from the Department of Commerce that their bond has been lodged. If this does not occur, tenants should check with their landlord/agent and contact Consumer Protection.”

The Court heard that Mrs Sakowski used a 2005 Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) tenancy agreement form and created her own lease agreement, which included conditions that were not acceptable, such as no children being allowed to visit the property.

“Standard lease agreements were introduced in 2013 to ensure fairness in the rental market and to provide clarity about the rights and obligations of both tenants and landlords. Importantly the prescribed information, which a tenant must be given a copy of, outlines the different avenues for resolving disputes,” Mr Hillyard said.

“The breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act in this case meant there was a lack of transparency in the agreement between the accused and the tenants. Two of the tenants were from overseas, one from interstate and one a first time renter, which means they were not familiar with WA tenancy law.

“The completion of property condition reports is compulsory under tenancy law and not providing property condition reports put the tenants in a position where they could not dispute damage caused because there was no record of how things were when the tenancy started compared to how things were left when the tenancy ended.

“I encourage anyone who rents out a property in WA to learn about their rights and responsibilities by reviewing Consumer Protection’s webpages and videos, at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/tenancy. The forms to use when putting new tenancy agreements in writing are also found there.”

Consumer Protection has also developed a free app for tenants in Western Australia. iRentWA has been downloaded by more than 6,000 iOS and Android device users to-date. Features include:
·         a calculator to work out the maximum amount of rent payable before moving in;
·         a place to store photos from compulsory property condition reports;
·         reminder functions for payment deadlines, routine inspections and notice periods.

Further information on bonds is available on the Consumer Protection website at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/bonds. Security bond lodgement forms can be downloaded or submitted online. Tenants can check their bond has been lodged by contacting the bond administrator by email: bondsadmin@commerce.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 583 829.

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
17 Mar 2016

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